Mexico: at least 44 dead in Nuevo León prison riot

At least 44 prisoners were killed in a clash between gangs at the Center for Social Readaptation (CERESO) in Apodaca, Nuevo León. Inmates erected barricades in corridors, and used improvised knives, stones and bars to fight guards and each other. Authorities said the clash pitted adherents of Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel against each other. The uprising was quelled by the state police, who mobilized a helicopter to the scene. The CERESO's director and all guards on duty at the time of the revolt have been detained. The CERESO, with an official capacity of 1,500, was holding some 3,000.

This was the second such incident in the state in recent months. On Oct. 13, a clash at a prison in Cadereyta left seven dead and 12 wounded. The Apodaca prison was itself the scene of a fire last May that killed 14—possibly caused by a short circuit.

Last month, 30 prisoners were killed in a prison riot in the Gulf coast city of Altamira in neighboring Tamaulipas state. In October, another fight in a Tamaulipas prison in the border city of Matamoros killed 20 inmates and injured 12. (La Jornada, AP, Feb. 19)

The violence comes days after a prison fire in Honduras killed more than 300 inmates.

See our last posts on Mexico and the narco wars

Nuevo León jailbreak: inside job

The riot that killed 44 inmates in the state prison in Apodaca, an industrial Monterrey suburb that abuts the city’s international airport, covered the escape of 30 members of the Zetas gang, Nuevo León Gov. Rodrigo Medina said Feb. 20. Medina fired the prison’s warden, who has also been detained for questioning, and state prison director. The warden and three other officials hare under investigation for collaborating in the escape.

"Unfortunately, a group of traitors has set back the work of a lot of good police," Medina told a press conference. "The most important thing is to make sure that the people working on the inside are on the side of the law, and that they not be corrupted and collaborate with the criminals, as the investigations indicate they presumably did." (Houston Chronicle Narco Confidential blog, AP, Feb. 20)